Friday, August 01, 2008

Like Living In A Park Again ... only without YOU people.

If you've been paying attention, you know I spent about ocho anos as a National Park Ranger. My primary duties were law enforcement (now classroom management) and interpretation (now teaching).

Searching this blog for the arrest of the time traveler, naked guy, and the high speed chase through Cherokee, NC should give you a taste for some of the odd things that I encountered during that part of my journey.

I mention that past career only as a link to this point. At times, in the Park Service, I lived in the park ... which sounds really cool, and is sometimes, but ... you are never really off duty.
On your day off, if you went outside your park housing, you were in a crowd of happy park visitors ... not a lot of privacy.
The evening was better after the park closed, but there were still "incidents".
At any moment, some "ignorer of signs, begging for a entering a closed area ticket moron" might come knocking on your door after hours.
You might have been chilling in your baggy shorts with an extreme case of bedhead, but suddenly "poof", you're on duty.
That makes for a grouchy law enforcement officer ... I'm just saying ... in case you ever think about entering a park after hours.

The upside was the abundance of critters and being surrounded by wildlands.

Now I have that same effect without park visitors ... or any visitors most days. I actually rode through a favorite wild park recently and saw less wildlife than I had seen in my own backyard that same day.

Take yesterday morning, I was standing in the kitchen with my baggy shorts and a severe case of bedhead going on, when this deer caught my eye out the kitchen window.

I left Bear inside (whine, whine) and slipped out barefoot to get close to this doe and her two fawns. The rain had just ended and they were moving through my garden area.
She looks so healthy. I think the daily (is this Seattle?) rains have given the ungulates abundant forage this year.
I have her fawns on video. In the picture above, the fawns were just out of the picture to the left. Click here to see Flag in action.

Walking back to the house, this black racer was hunting around the cement pad that the two heat pump units sit upon.
Sleek, beautiful, so graceful in movement that they seem to float over the ground ... I love having them around. This one is pretty big for a racer.
I think they are thrilled with the nooks and crannies of the waterfolly.

My red swamp mallow is still in the pot (Points for Lowes for carrying native plants!) and has been blooming continuously since I bought it.

This very green grasshopper was out also. He was munching on my swamp mallow, but not causing any serious damage so I didn't show him to Bear who was out again since the fawns had moved on.

Grasshoppers and cicadas fear Bear ... as well they should.

He is fascinated with them ...
... in a pouncey, eventual dissection sort of way.


Sandcastle Momma said...

She sure is pretty. The nurseries around here (Lowes included) only carry plants native to Miami. Seems that's the effect people round here want. It's a shame because this part of Florida has some pretty spectacular plant life. That park ranger job sounds pretty spectacular too. I've always thought that would be an awesome job but you having your own park sounds even better!

threecollie said...

If you build it (and maintain it) they will come.
And you have certainly built and maintained wonderful habitat as evidenced by the creatures that live near you.
And I love the snake!

Susan said...

The deer looks buff, the mallow is gorgeous and the racer seems quite sporty. I love the neon grasshopper pic with a hint of Bear in the background.

I'm sure it crosses your mind to THANK GOD for what He's given you.

Your life is good. :)

swamp4me said...

Oh yeah, we can relate to the never off duty part of this post ;) After living nearly all my adult life on a park, I am looking forward to living on private property.
Love the current banner, by the way. Good thing I look good in green or this envy would be a real problem :D

Cathy S. said...

We saw tons of deer on the Blue Ridge Parkway. One we came face to face with. Unfortunately, we were going 75 miles an hour on a motorcycle. Fortunately, he turned and ran AWAY from us at just the right time. I think your place is just a lovely and I promise not to let husband drive a motorcycle through it.

Laura said...

I have a few of those black racers in my yard. Do you know if they're territorial? It seems as if I always see the same one in the same general area.

There's a big fat one that lives along the fence near the shed and I rarely see him elsewhere.
Then a little one that seems to like the gardens near the pool.

I don't mind them at all, except when I come across them unexpectedly when I'm weeding.

I think the neighbors are used to hearing me scream by now.
Not that I"m afraid --- they just seem to come up on ya pretty fast.

And btw, I can see how your career in "law enforcement" and "wildlife" management would work in the middle school... oh yeah.

SwampAngel65 said...

I've said it a million times before, and I'll say it are one very lucky dude! I go home to my little 1/2 acre or suburbia and try to pretend I'm in my own little wilderness. If I can get past the cars on the expressway, the neighbors tearing down the street and the jets flying overhead...well, it's still more wilderness than most yards in my neighborhood!

And I now know to never, ever knock on a Park Ranger's door for fear of what I may see!!

Have a great weekend (oh, you wanna come help me blacktop my driveway???)

kathy a. said...

great photos and storyline, as always. isn't park rangering good prep for raising kids and teaching kids?

i ran a college dorm once -- less wildlife [coyotes in the hills just behind us, the time we had bees nest in the dorm, plus certain residents and visitors], but it still featured the 24/7 thing. a surprising number of crises happen at night, in a dorm. my first response to one of the fires was in a blessedly modest flannel nightgown. thankfully, there was no digital photography in the olden days.

caroline said...

From your final comment, with apologies to Walt Disney, sounds like Bear should have been named Tigger.
Reference lyrics to "The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers" from the Winnie the Pooh movie.
Caroline in South Dakota

myamuhnative said...

I ran out to Lowes right after your first post about the hibiscus coccinea (even though I am trying to boycott them for wanting to build a store here on important for the everglades wetlands) but alas, no mallows of red splendiferous beauty. Think I might talk you out of a few seeds when you start to have an abundance of them? I could offer you some just picked swamp rose mallow seeds from my yard :)

Anonymous said...

The picture of the deer is so great most people would love to get that close and your plant is even more beautiful. Snakes I can do with out.jabo

Anonymous said...

FC-Hey now some of "us people" will be there before you know it. Just a little too busy globe trotting right now but just a few short years!

Dr. Know said...

Texas Swamp Hibiscus, Scarlet Rose Mallow, Texas Star, Scarlet Hibiscus - I have 6 little ones in nursery pots awaiting a good home. They germinate from seed easily and man are they gaudy...

I'll say it again - Dude, you suck. May carpetbagger developers come and build a 500 home subdivision next door. ;-)

That's what happens every time I move somewhere nice. In fact, they are digging the road up the street to make it 5 lanes as we speak - again.

Perhaps Alaska would be free from such probabilities...

pablo said...

I think this kind of manufactured solitude is exactly the kind of motivation that brings us back to Roundrock and makes us look forward to living there in the future.